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My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South

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Overview

Recipes for easily accessible, fresh-from-the-garden Italian food from a Calabrian native and "bountiful good cook" (The Atlantic).
At the tip of Italy's "boot" lies Calabria. It is a beautiful, mountainous region populated by fishermen and small farmers. Rosetta Costantino grew up in this rugged landscape—her father a shepherd and wine maker and her mother his tireless assistant.
When her family immigrated to California, they re-created a ...

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Overview

Recipes for easily accessible, fresh-from-the-garden Italian food from a Calabrian native and "bountiful good cook" (The Atlantic).
At the tip of Italy's "boot" lies Calabria. It is a beautiful, mountainous region populated by fishermen and small farmers. Rosetta Costantino grew up in this rugged landscape—her father a shepherd and wine maker and her mother his tireless assistant.
When her family immigrated to California, they re-created a little Calabria on their property, cooking with eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers from their garden, fresh ricotta made from scratch, and pasta fashioned by hand. A frugal people, Calabrians are master preservers, transforming fresh figs into jam, canning fresh tuna in oil, and sun-drying peppers for the winter. Now Rosetta shares her family's story and introduces readers to the fiery simplicity of Calabrian food. The first cookbook of a little-known region of Italy, My Calabria celebrates the richness of the region's landscape and the allure of its cuisine. This is a cookbook for our time: a reminder of how ingenious and resourceful cooks can create a gorgeous local cuisine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Recipes such as sagne chine (Calabrese lasagne), vruocculi ca' savuzuizza (sausage and broccoli rabe), and pipi 'mpajanati (sweet pepper fritters) highlight this brilliant, comprehensive cookbook by Calabrian-born Costantino (who now resides in Northern California) and Fletcher (cookbook author and San Francisco Chronicle columnist). And while the region is hardly undiscovered, as the subtitle suggests (there have been several book in recent years on the region, and it's a favorite vacation spot for northern Europeans), Costantino certainly digs deep into the cuisine, highlighting authentic recipes along with an insightful narrative. She offers recipes for pane calabrese, a thick-crusted bread with a soft, tangy middle that the region takes pride in: homemade ricotta cheese and swordfish rolls with breadcrumb stuffing. She offers explanations on Calabrese meats (soppressatta, spalla, salsiccia, 'nduja), cheeses (butirro, caciocavallo), pastas (cannaruozzoli, scilatelli, and the Arbëresh, or Albanian-influenced, couscous), as well as an entire chapter on preserves, such as fresh fig jam; mushrooms in oil with hot peppers (ubiquitous throughout Calabria), fennel and garlic; and a liqueur made from mandarin oranges. Costantino's cookbook offers home cooks a delightful journey along the toe of Italy's boot. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Writing with San Francisco Chronicle food columnist Fletcher, Costantino, who teaches cooking classes in San Francisco, introduces readers to her native Calabria, from its history to key ingredients like anchovies, canned tomatoes, canned tuna, capers, dried oregano, and olive oil. While these ingredients may seem a lot like those in other Italian food, the recipes are slightly different; Quick Tomato Sauce, for example, includes one small hot red pepper. Cooks new to Calabrian cooking are sure to enjoy Warm Christmas Doughnuts (made with yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes). Recipes are written for the beginning cook. Suggested wines and a list of ingredient resources are included. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393065169
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/8/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 84,482
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Born and raised in Verbicaro, Calabria, Rosetta Costantino teaches cooking classes and lives in Oakland, California.

Janet Fletcher, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, is the author of numerous books on food and wine. She lives in Napa Valley.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Authentic, comprehensive, and simply gorgeous

    As some background, I am an American of Calabrian heritage who has been living in my ancestors' village in Calabria since 2003; I received this book for review on my blog, Bleeding Espresso. *

    Rosetta Costantino was born in Calabria and moved to America with her family at age 14. Although they left behind much of what was familiar to them, the Costantino family never lost their culinary traditions -- and now Rosetta shares them with us in My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South.

    When paging through My Calabria, you feel like an honorary member of the family at the table as you learn about how Rosetta's father recreated their Calabrian garden in Oakland, California; how various members of the family make the same dish; and also the 11 ingredients every Calabrian pantry should have on hand.

    Rosetta also shares information about the historical and cultural influences on Calabrian cuisine and lifestyle, so aside from being a wonderful collection of recipes (150) that includes appetizers through dessert, My Calabria is simply a wonderful resource book on the region -- you're getting so much more than a cookbook here.

    The recipes themselves are authentic as they come and easy to follow -- one of the best things about Calabrian cooking is that it's user-friendly as it uses so few ingredients -- and the book is just gorgeous. There are plenty of full-page and other sized color photos throughout, not only of recipes but also of various sights from around Calabria.

    From a personal standpoint as someone who has been making Calabrian food ever since I could cook -- first from my grandmother's recipes and now also from my mother-in-law's -- I give this book five very full espresso cups out of five. Rosetta is a wonderful tour guide through this region's food, history, and culture, and I highly recommend My Calabria for anyone who is interested in Calabria, southern Italy, or southern Italian cuisine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    ALMOST AS GOOD AS A VISIT TO THAT STORIED REGION

    Italian food lovers will rejoice, those who yearn for the flavors of Calabria will be ecstatic with MY CALABRIA, the first cookbook devoted entirely to the distinctive cuisine of that unique rather remote region. As author Costantino notes in her Introduction, "At the southern tip of the peninsula lies an Italy that few people know: a land of fragrant citron and bergamot orchards, ancient olive groves and terraced vineyards; a place of persistent tradition and ritual, where the annual swordfish catch and hot pepper harvest are celebrated with elaborate festivals, and where women still roll pasta dough around knitting needles."

    Yes, this is the area that popular cooking teacher Costantino knows and loves; it is where she was born and raised, nourished with homegrown, homemade food. Her knowledge of and affection for Calabria is evident on every one of this book's 416 pages and in every gorgeous full color photograph.

    Beginning with Antipasti and Pasta we're treated to a cornucopia of hearty dishes under the headings of Soup, Rice, Polenta; Bread, Cheese, Eggs; Seafood; Meat; Vegetables; and Desserts. Each recipe mirrors the Calabrian's need to create nourishing and delicious food from what they grew or caught. The Desserts, many of which are a part of religious celebrations, are especially appealing.

    While MY CALABRIA would stand alone as an outstanding cookbook it is so much more - it is a delightful armchair tour of the region (one we've enjoyed over and over again), a listing of places to stay and eat, and a comprehensive ingredient resource guide. Costantino finds her Peperoni Cruschi and Pecorino di Toscano at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michiga. We followed her lead and have thoroughly enjoyed the Peperoni Cruschi, made from the peppers in which the Calabrians take such pride, and the Pecorino di Toscano, which we grated to garnish our pasta.

    MY CALABRIA is both a celebration of rustic family cooking and a tribute to the traditional ways of preparing food - enjoy!

    - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 2, 2011

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